Fr. Paul MacNeil
Christmas Homily 2022
The Light of Christ
Sometimes the world seems very dark. I came across a headline in the paper yesterday, “We live in a society that has an enormous potential to be unkind,” referring to a judge's comment to a teen guilty of an act of violence against a transgender student. It reminds me of that song from the Judd's:
Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
When the line between right and wrong
Didn't seem so hazy
Did lovers really fall in love to stay
And stand beside each other, come what may?
Was a promise really something people kept
Not just something they would say
Did families really bow their heads to pray?
Did daddies really never go away?
Whoa, whoa, grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
Two things I’d like to share with you today. First of all, our mission as a parish is to love God, Love others and follow Christ. I love this mission because I still believe that Jesus Christ is the light to all our darkness. Secondly, how do we turn that light on? We don’t; that light is already on, all we have to do is open our eyes. That might be why the miracle stories about blindness are so important.
Look at all the different kinds of light we have; all of it has made the world a better and safer place, but none compares to the light of Christ. We have Sunlight, Moonlight, Starlight, Candlelight, Firelight, Incandescent light, fluorescent light, LED light, flashlights, lanterns, Fireflies and glowworms, and glow-in-the-dark rosaries. We have the light of discovery, the Light of knowledge, the light of truth and, the light of love, even spiritual enlightenment. None compares to the light that comes to us from God above, shining through the child Jesus.
I remember walking on a busy but narrow street in Calcutta on the way out to dinner on Sudder street, at the time a very famous kind of backpacker haven with lots of cool little food places.
While we were walking down the street, all the power went out, and I have never experienced the kind of blackness that we felt. It was thick, and not only couldn’t we see in front of us, but I also couldn’t see the Irish girl beside me, and she, who was ordinarily tough as nails, was cutting off the circulation in my hand she held it so tightly. Honestly, I couldn’t ’t even see the hand in front of my face, and I was terrified. We both were. Paralyzed, we just stood motionless in the middle of the street (there were no sidewalks). I don’t need to say that this is sometimes what the world is like for many people.
So, where does light come from? What must we do? Typically, we have to figure out a way to turn it on to find the switch. With sunlight, moonlight and starlight, it has to do with a nuclear reaction eons ago. With candlelight and firelight, it has to do with heat and spark or a good Bic lighter. With electric light, it’s just a matter of turning on a switch and connecting a flow.
But what about the light of Christ? That’s the easiest light of all. Unlike a lamp or a candle that has to be lit or turned on, the light of Christ is always on; all we have to do is open our eyes. Sometimes we’re like that cartoon character with a bucket over his head, “who turned out the lights?” Nobody turned out the lights; it's just that in our fear and our ignorance, we shut our eyes
Even though our society has enormous potential to be unkind, I also know that our society has even more potential to be kind. All we have to do is open our eyes to the light already around us, which is so easy to do. They say it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I say it’s better to open our eyes and see the light already there.